After a mysterious 15 month, 469 day mission the X-37B space plane has returned. Touching down at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a cold Saturday night the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) returned to Terra-firma.
When the X-37B was initially launched from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket the mission was intended to last only 9 months. Not that any information was available on the original mission objectives. When the mission was extended for an unknown period, 6 months as it turns out, the rumour mill started churning at an even faster rate.
There are currently two X-37B’s in testing, OTV-1 and OTV-2, usually one is in the workshop while the other is in orbit.
The X-37B was originally designed as a portable toolbox for the space shuttle, with the dimensions designed to allow it to fit snugly in the shuttles pay load bay. When the shuttle was retired the X-37B stepped up to the mark.